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Best Buy announced it will launch this month the Best Buy Digital Music Store, an online subscription music service powered by RealNetwork's Rhapsody, which offers the same features as Rhapsody but adds exclusive music content provided by Best Buy.
Best Buy will also become the exclusive brick and mortar outlet for new SanDisk e200R MP3 players designed to work seamlessly with the Best Buy music site and with Rhapsody's new Version 4.0 service.
“We believe we have the ability to create excitement with exclusive content and to shine the spotlight on certain artists that Best Buy already has a relationship with through our CD business. Artists are always looking for new ways to reach their fans and Best Buy has a relationship with the fans,” according to Jennifer Schaidler, Best Buy VP domain leader of playing music.
One of the first artists to offer exclusive content for the new Best Buy Digital Music Store is Diddy whose new CD “Press Play” is due for release on Oct. 17. Best Buy said an exclusive Diddy track will be available both through the Best Buy Digital Music Store and on CDs sold exclusively at Best Buy.
“Dozens of other artists” will also offer exclusive content for the Best Buy music store in the near future, said Schaidler.
Best Buy will launch the Music Store on October 15. It will offer the music store software at all of its locations and on Bestbuy.com and will sell millions of CDs with special stickers to promote the service.
Best Buy, which claims to be the No. 1 retailer in the United States for MP3 players, said that it hopes to help promote the benefit of subscription music services (vs. download service such as iTunes) through its new music store. While download services enjoy high consumer awareness, subscription music service which allow users to pay a flat fee for unlimited music, are less recognized by consumers. “Education has been a barrier for consumer adoption [of subscription services which] are a great music discovery tool,” Schaidler said, noting, “We believe we can really grow the pie between trained blue shirts in the store and our ability to market it … and we'll be able to create awareness and demand for subscription downloads.”
Best Buy said it chose to partner with Rhapsody and SanDisk as Rhapsody is the No. 1 subscription music service provider and SanDisk is ranked as the second leading digital audio player supplier.
All of the e200R series SanDisk players will be offered with two free months of the Best Buy Music Store service. Best Buy users can either buy individual songs at $.99 per song or they can subscribe to the service for unlimited music listening at $14.99 per month.
Concurrent with Best Buy's announcement, RealNetworks unveiled a new Rhapsody 4.0 music service that will allow users to transfer their music from other music services including iTunes into their Rhapsody or Best Buy subscription account.